Human Animal Interaction

MA, MSc, Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma

Psychology at Stirling is one of the leading psychology departments in the UK. It ranked in the top 20 in the recent research assessment (REF 2014).


This programme will introduce students to interdisciplinary approaches and a diverse range of methods used to research our relationships with other species. This course introduces a broad range of topics and considers human-animal interactions across a diverse range of contexts from pet owning to animal assisted interventions, zoos, farms and conservation.

Psychology at the University of Stirling has a vibrant research culture and our taught postgraduate students are fully integrated in the research community, meeting up for weekly research seminars and informal specialist discussion groups. Psychology masters students have access to a dedicated suite of study and teaching rooms.

Key information

EU Applicants
EU students enrolling for a postgraduate taught degree in the 2017/18 and 2018/19 academic year will be admitted as Scottish/EU fee status students and will be eligible for the same tuition support as Scottish domiciled students.

  • Qualification: MA, MSc, Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma
  • Study methods: Campus based, Full-time, Part-time
  • Start date:


  • Course Director: Professor Hannah Buchanan-Smith
  • Location: Stirling Campus
Download postgraduate prospectus

Linda Cullen

Postgraduate Secretary

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Entry requirements

Academic requirements

A minimum of a second class Honours degree (2.1 preferred) or equivalent in a relevant subject. Applicants without these formal qualifications but with significant appropriate/relevant work/life experience are encouraged to apply.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

  • IELTS: 6.0 with 5.5 minimum in each skill
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): Grade C
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE): Grade C
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic): 54 with 51 in each component
  • IBT TOEFL: 80 with no subtest less than 17

For more information go to English language requirements

If you don’t meet the required score you may be able to register for one of our pre-sessional English courses. To register you must hold a conditional offer for your course and have an IELTS score 0.5 or 1.0 below the required standard. View our range of pre-sessional courses.

Flexible Learning

If you are interested in studying a module from this course, the Postgraduate Certificate or the Postgraduate Diploma then please email to discuss your course of study.

Application procedure

Please use the contact details on this page in the first instance if you are interested in this course.

Fees and costs


2018/19 Overseas MSc - £15,250
2018/19 Home/EU MSc - £6,300


Fees for all new applicants to postgraduate taught courses are held at the level set upon entry.

Please note there is an additional charge should you choose to attend a graduation ceremony. View more information

Cost of Living

Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

Payment options

Find information on paying fees by instalments

Scholarships & funding

There are typically five £1,000 competitive bursaries to contribute towards fees or maintenance costs for students beginning a taught Masters course. All students, including international students, formally accepted onto the MSc course are eligible to apply for these awards. 

Scholarship finder

Structure and teaching

Structure and content

The course includes two core modules on different aspects of human-animal interaction:

  • Humans and Other Animals
  • Human-Animal Interaction in Context

In addition, there is an external placement module and an individual research project. Optional modules include quantitative and/or qualitative research methods, and a choice of postgraduate modules to suit specific personal development needs (in agreement with the Course Director). The individual module components contribute towards 60 percent of the MA/MSc grade, with the research dissertation contributing the remaining 40 percent. A highlight of the Masters programme is a conference on Human Animal Interactions, organised by Paws for Progress , with a wide range of distinguished speakers providing excellent networking opportunities.  The registration fee is covered for Masters students.

This is a one year (12 month) or 27 month part-time course and can be studied as an MA or MSc (dependent on whether the focus is on quantitative or qualitative methodologies).  Selected components of this Masters programme can also be taken to gain a postgraduate certificate (PGCert 60 credits, part time over 9 months) or a diploma (PGDip 120 credits over 9 months) as continuing professional development for those already working in this area. 

Delivery and assessment

Teaching is delivered using a variety of methods including tutorials, demonstrations and practical classes, but the majority is seminar-based.  Students are typically taught in small groups in specialist classes, or with first year PhD students or other postgraduate students (for example, in modules from other MSc courses).  A range of assessment methods are used across the programme including:

  • research proposals
  • critical reviews
  • a logic model
  • reflective journals for placements
  • oral presentations
  • popular science articles
  • dissertation


Semester 1

Semester 2

Semester 3

Recommended reading

Some suggested text books

Dolins F. L. Ed. (1999) Attitudes to animals: views in animal welfare. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press.

Fine A. H. Ed. (2010) Handbook on animal-assisted therapy : Theoretical foundations and guidelines for practice. Amsterdam; London : Academic Press.

Manfredi M.J. (2008) Who cares about wildlife? Social Science concepts in exploring human-wildlife relationships and conservation issues. New York: Springer

McCardle, P. et al Eds. (2011) Animals in our lives: human-animal interaction in family, community, and therapeutic settings. London : Paul H. Brookes.

Modes of study

Two semesters for Diploma, 12 months for MSc.

Four semesters for the Diploma, 24 months for MSc.

Why Stirling?


In REF2014 Stirling was placed 6th in Scotland and 45th in the UK with almost three quarters of research activity rated either world-leading or internationally excellent.

International Students

The University of Stirling welcomes students from around the world. Find out what studying here could be like for you .

Study abroad opportunities

As a 12 month course there is limited opportunity to study abroad. However, students may be able to undertake a placement or conduct data collection for their research project at suitable organisations outside the UK.  


Psychology at Stirling has extensive experience in delivering placement modules and we have excellent links with partners in industry and the third sector. Established partnerships with relevant organisations also offer research projects to students, within the Making the Most of Masters framework -

Members of the teaching team also have experience in establishing an animal assisted intervention programme as a social enterprise:

University of Stirling has notable capacity within the area of human-animal interaction, ranging from

  • niche construction
  • aquaculture
  • conservation
  • human animal conflict
  • animal assisted therapy and support
  • education and entertainment
  • the study of animal behaviour and animal welfare

Psychology at Stirling is one of the leading psychology departments in the UK. It ranked in the top 20 in the recent research assessment (REF 2014) and is one of only seven non-Russell group universities to do so (Birkbeck, Royal Holloway, Sussex, Essex, St Andrews and Bangor; source Times Higher Education magazine). Its quality of research publications ranked third in Scotland after Aberdeen and Glasgow. Furthermore, the relevance of its research activity to society received the highest possible rating which only four other psychology departments in the UK achieved (REF 2014 results).

Psychology at Stirling University is small enough to fully involve MSc students in our lively and collegial community of research excellence.

Your three month full-time dissertation is supervised by leading UK academics.

Careers and employability

Career opportunities

The course is designed for those going on to do further research in the field of human- animal interaction, or in careers where a knowledge of the theoretical and practical aspects of this field would be beneficial.  In particular, the placement and research project can enable students to gain direct experience tailored to individual career aspirations.


98% of our postgraduate leavers are in employment or further study withing six months of graduating - Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey 2015/16
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